God and Life

We are all falling for the three temptations

I remember reading about the temptations of Jesus as a child. I was lost and did not understand why these temptations were such a big deal. OK… Jesus had fasted for 40 days and was at the tail-end of his fast when Satan came and asked him to turn some stones into bread. He refused. Like anyone would or should. I mean, who wants to eat stony bread? What was the big deal about that? Yes, I understood Jesus was hungry after fasting for 40 days, and he indeed had the power to turn stones into edible bread, but he did not use his power. Still, it just did not make any sense to my young mind. Jesus was in the wilderness. Why didn’t the devil ask him to turn the air to water considering he was probably parched with thirst?

For a long time, the three temptations remained that part of the bible I just did not understand. Don’t get me wrong, I understood Jesus was modeling a resistance to temptation but questions I could not stop asking myself were: “why did the devil choose those specific temptations? Why didn’t he pick something else? Why didn’t he say ‘hey, you’re the son of God right? Why don’t you turn these stones into piles of gold?” I mean, the devil could have asked anything of Jesus, but he specifically asked for three things – three things I did not understand until recently.

I had given up on understanding the three temptations. I had accepted that the lesson to be learned from these temptations was simply the fact that we would all face temptation and we had to resist. But recently, I had an epiphany. I was reading Luke 4 for the umpteenth time, not seeking any kind of understanding, just reading because I wanted to read my bible and it seemed like a good place to read when suddenly, the fog cleared.

The three temptations are not meaningless. They were not pulled out of a hat. They were specific and focused on life as we would come to live it. Don’t roll your eyes yet. Please read my musings on these temptations.

Temptation #1: “If you are the son of God, change this stone into a loaf of bread”

This temptation is one that we commonly face today without us realizing it. Very often, we are tempted to turn the stones around us into bread, and more often than not, we do! But what are these stones and how are we mere mortals turning them into bread? Well, let me ask you this: Have you ever consumed something that was not yours to consume? Taken something that was not yours to own? Used your power to take over something you knew you morally shouldn’t? If you have, you have ticked temptation #1 off the list. Think about it:

The devil, by starting his statement with “if you are the son of God”, was deliberately reminding Jesus of his power and position, and the statement “change this stone into a loaf of bread” was a reference to how Jesus could choose to abuse that power. Stones are not to be made into loaves. They are not to be consumed by humans, yet Satan was asking Jesus to turn a stone into a loaf of bread. He was asking Jesus to abuse his power to make the inedible edible. How many times have you used your power to make the inedible edible? How many times have you taken what was not yours to have and consumed it simply because you had the power?

Jesus’ response, “Man shall not live by bread alone” was not a literal reference to bread, but a reference to the fact that contentment does not come from us consuming everything we have the power to consume. There is contentment in loving others, applying restraint in our use of power, and finding other meanings in our lives that do not include how much we can take over.

Temptation #2: “I will give you the glory of all these kingdoms and authority over them, because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me”

Besides the evident lie in what Satan was saying to Jesus here, there was something else I completely missed all these years. Satan was attempting to tap into deep-seated insecurity. Think about it. What kind of person would want authority over all the kingdoms of the earth?

A person who was trying to fill a void no one else could see.

We are all insecure in some way, and we often try to cover our insecurities by acquiring more. People build 15 bedroom houses, even though they have a family of 4 simply because they want to be admired. People marry exotic partners because they want to be seen as capable. People seek power and exercise it in ways that are akin to tyranny because they feel small and want to prove to everyone that they are not. And by seeking these things, we begin to worship them. We become so consumed by the pursuit of them that they become the idols we dedicate our lives to. So it makes sense that Jesus’ response was “You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him”. Because at the end of the day, even after we acquire these ‘kingdoms’, we do not find happiness; rather, we become consumed by the desire to pursue more. We keep searching for happiness in these kingdoms and increasingly become depressed when they don’t yield the joy we seek from them. Satan knows there is no joy in any of these quests. He knows that no matter how much we pursue and acquire, if we don’t put God at the center of our lives, we will end up depressed – depressed enough for him to sneak in and snuff our lives out (I wrote about this in my book. You can read the excerpt here). When I think about this, I remember the end of Alexander the great.

“And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer” – Hans Gruber in ‘Die Hard (1988).

Temptation #3: “If you are the son of God, jump off! For the scriptures say He will order his angels to protect and guard you

I have taken a lot of risks in my life. Sometimes, when I think back to the dangers I put myself in as a teenager, I mutter a prayer of thanksgiving to God. I did not realize at the time that I was putting myself in danger and I am grateful God looked out for me anyway. But what about now?

This temptation thrives on over-confidence. There are many people who love God, walk in his ways and trust in him, but are so over-confident that they deliberately put themselves in the line of fire to prove a point of how much God loves and adores them. This is common among the ‘Christianese‘. I remember a story I heard as a child of a pastor in a village in Nigeria who decided to go to the village stream to pray against the demons there. He walked into the stream, and before he could utter a word, realized his legs were stuck. The so-called demons in the stream had held him prisoner, and it took an army of prayer warriors to ‘set him free’. It was probably a fable, but a cautionary tale warning us not to go seeking things for the sake of proving God is on our side.

You might ask “but how do we show we have faith if we don’t jump?” Well, I don’t think faith is about proving a point to anyone. It is not even proving a point to ourselves. We don’t exercise faith to stunt on haters. We exercise faith because we trust God has beautiful and amazing plans for our lives. And that is why when what we trust for does not pan out the way we want, we don’t stop trusting God. If however, the plan is to prove a point, if the backdrop of our actions is over-confidence, then our motives are misplaced and our ego can end up hurt. Overconfidence does not serve God. It serves us. It is due to a bloated sense of self-importance, not a sense of God.

I can’t say I have gained a full understanding of the line between faith and overconfidence and I hope someone will expatiate on it in the comments, but I will always remember Jesus’ response to this temptation: “You must not test the Lord Your God.”

So, I am happy that I can finally say the three temptations make sense to me. I am elated to have found these meanings, and I am aware others out there might have insights I have not yet gained. Please share them with me in the comments. Looking forward to reading them.

God and Life

‘I Died At 26’ – Excerpt from Chapter One

To pre-order a copy of ‘I Died At 26’, please click here (Shipping from mid-September)

I died and no one knew about it for a very long time.

My death was no spectacular event. It was slow and almost painless. It did not make the papers; no one heard about it and no one far or near saw it happen. As a matter of fact, no one thought a person like me, on the path I was, with the strength I possessed and the determination with which I pursued my purpose could die. Yet I did; and for a long time it was my best kept ‘open secret’. I could not blame anyone for being oblivious to my death. It was not exactly made of crime investigation TV material. There was no bloodshed, no warning signs and certainly no suspects. It was a simple case of surprise and surrender. Death surprised me and I surrendered. Even if I had been given time to prepare for its visit, I doubt I would have been able to withstand its force against me.

Before my death, my life was on the right path. It was a shining beacon of inspiration to many. I was touching lives, making a difference and feeling purposeful every time I opened my eyes. It seemed as if all the elements of the universe had converged to give me what I needed and I was falling in love with the path that lay before me. But in what seemed like a swift moment, everything changed, and for a long time I had to pretend they were still the same. I had to pretend I still had everything together, act like everyone expected me to, laugh like I used to, talk like I used to and walk like I used to. Every time someone who knew me before everything changed spoke to me, I had the textbook “God is good” response at the tip of my tongue. But deep inside, I was unsure of myself. I was at a place in my life where the questions I had for God were more than the praises that crossed my thoughts. I licked my wounds in secret and subscribed fully to the association of the walking dead to keep my pretence alive. I succumbed to death and no one could tell.

Is this perchance an apt description of how you once felt or are currently feeling? Perhaps you are slipping into the cold hands of death as you read this – walking, talking laughing and working… yet, slipping away slowly just like I was. Everyone thinks you are alive, but you know that the heartbeat you feel is not yours; the life you live is not yours, even the feelings you have are not yours. Every time you close your eyes, you are plagued by visions of another life – making waves and breaking grounds; but the moment you open your eyes, everything feels dead and hopeless. Perhaps you once had plans for the life you now see in those visions. You had all the right strategies in place and you were going for gold before you tripped and fell into a dark abyss. Now you’re struggling to stay alive. You walk and talk like you used to before you fell, and everyone thinks your life is going great still. But only you know, in the deepest crevices of your mind that you are dying and your attempts to fight death have been abysmally futile.

I know how it feels to lose against the cold scrawny hands of this death. I also tried to fight it and quickly discovered that I was expending my energy on a battle I was not equipped to win. I walked, talked, laughed and even worked with the efficiency of a flawlessly-assembled robot. Only I knew that my core was missing. Everyone else saw me as a complete package. Some of them even aspired to be like me! If only they knew that I was feeling like the essence of my existence had been yanked away from me and without it I had become soul-less. If only they knew how hard I cried to have it back, how long I prayed endlessly for the restoration of what was and how much I struggled to fake it with the hope that things would still fall into place, they would not have wished to be me. If only they knew that the package they admired on the outside was full of emptiness and despair on the inside, they would have cast the nets of their admiration elsewhere. If only they knew that the woman they perceived as strong, focused and a role model was at death’s door… if only, if only… but the truth is they didn’t, and I died.

I fooled a lot of people easily because as a fairly good orator, I knew all the right things to say and when to say them. Few people saw my tears as my soul was pierced but even they could not understand them. I reached out for help but no one thought I needed it that badly. Who saves a strong person? Who saves the person who always helps and motivates everyone? The answer is no one. No one thought the weight was too much to carry or the pain too much to bear. “You are strong Demi, you will pull through this” they said. And so I had no choice than to surrender to death. If no one was going to help lift the burden, I decided to die beneath its weight.

This book is a true story, my true story. It is about how I went from life to death and back to life in twelve months. It is about how I learned that God is in the midst of every dying phase we go through and his intentions for us, even in the midst of death, are filled with love, grace and peace.

At first, I told myself it was not important to write this book. In this day and age, where there are so many people going through excruciating situations, I started to question if my story was enough to help you understand your own death and hopefully awaken you to a new life. Then I met with other people, listened to them open up about their lives and I realized that the end result of death is the same. It does not matter if a person dies peacefully in their sleep, from a car accident, a house fire, or a violent attack, the endpoint is death. In the same way, it does not matter if you are reading this book because your design for your life is falling apart, or because you feel God is not hearing your incessant cries, or you’ve lost your job and can’t break into the job market because of the robots, or because your spouse walked out the door and left you to grapple with the million and one pieces that are now the remains of your life, the fact is you are dying just like many others out there – dying for different reasons but dying all the same.

I hope that by reading my story and my thoughts about this death, you will awaken to life again. I hope you will transition safely from a place of death to real life where you exist in every space, connect with yourself and with God your creator to live an abundant life. This book is not just for those who believe in God, live Christ-centered lives and know all the right bible verses for every situation. This book is for you – the ‘I’ve-heard-about-God-but-don’t-really-know-him’ person; the ‘I-used-to-know-God-but-my-life-fell-apart-so-I-left-him’ person and the “I-don’t-read-Hallelujah-stuff” person. You are in luck; I am pretty certain I did not use the word “Hallelujah” that much so keep reading. This book is for every imperfect person out there, every confused person and certainly every functional dead person who is trudging slowly to 75 when they hope to be buried. This book is for everyone who desires to wake up from death, make it through life’s dark tunnels and awaken to life again. It has taken a lot of courage to write this and I hope reading about my experience wakes you up to a new abundant life where you are assured of God’s love, God’s grace and God’s beautiful plans for your life.

God and Life

In Nigeria, It’s Not Hard to Find and Join a Cult

When the story of Ese Walters and Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of COZA broke out back in 2013, I posted Ese’s story and the story of another woman by the name Franca on my blog. You can read that post here. I remember how quickly people came to the pastor’s defence, not on my blog, but on Facebook, stating that he was a man of God and those who believed Ese’s story were bound to be mercilessly judged by God. An acquaintance from college took the pain to write me a personal message of how deeply she believed Pastor Biodun was innocent.

It’s six years later and new allegations of rape have come up against the same man. As usual, church members are out in droves on social media defending him. Some have claimed that women throw themselves at the pastor because he is ‘just so fine’. In spite of his display of ‘terroristic bigmanism’ (a newly coined Nigerian slang that describes the brute show of power by well-connected men in the country), many church members remain steadfast in their belief that the pastor is innocent, and is simply being attacked by the devil for doing the Lord’s work.

Here’s what’s interesting. This was the exact same thing church members chanted back in 2013 when Ese Walters posted her story. They praised Pastor Biodun in a frenzy of worship for his ability to teach the word, inspire the youths and well, for other things I cannot even remember. Now they are doing the same, as though they are reading from the same script from six years ago. You may see it differently, but it all sounds a little ‘cultish’ to me.

It made me think back with zero nostalgia to when I was a child and my parents decided to uproot our family from a well-established church in the metropolitan Lagos area to what I can only refer to as a religious start-up in one of the annex suburbs of Lagos. The church had one pastor who had the vision, the fire and the knowledge of the word, and us, the followers.

At first it all seemed great – a small church where everyone felt like family, not because we were really family, but because it was just so hard to hide your business from the prying eyes of everyone else. My parents reveled in it. We the children just went along with it. It didn’t take long after we joined for the rules to start falling from the pulpit.

  1. All children had to be in the choir. Yes, you read that right. Every child in the church, including those who were unable to blow their own noses had to be in the choir. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how the choir sounded. Drunk bees sounded way better than we did
  2. There was a special covering over everyone in the church due to the anointing of the pastor. Leaving the ministry meant leaving the special covering of protection, in which case we would be vulnerable to the darts of the enemy. So guess what? No one was trying to even leave for fear that the enemy was right around the corner.
  3. We were like the Israelites and we were heading to the Promised Land physically and spiritually. Leaving the church meant missing out on the joy of getting to the promised land of the church and the promised land of your life. In fact, for this rule, the pastor openly considered himself to be Moses and appointed my father (yes my dad!) as Aaron. Both of them were to lead us, the Israelites to the promised Land.

We needed a really good shaking but we stayed put. After a while, visions started to pop up from prophets in the church, stating that the wrath of God was going to fall on anyone who dared to think of leaving the church. We were stuck. No one wanted to be the first to leave and test the prophecy so we all showed up religiously at church, even when the pastor and his family were kicked out of the building and we had to hold our services, including vigils outside in pouring rain.

We often left the church on Sundays to pray over the promised Land – a vast piece of land in the area which the pastor claimed God had shown him will be ours. We went there as a group, held hands and prayed with enough fervour to scare all the angels of Heaven into doing our bidding. It took years and a lot of bravery for us to discover that the so-called promised land belonged to families who were already planning to erect structures on it. Thank God we were not arrested by the police while we were there shouting proclamations over land we did not own.

We defended the church. We defended the prophecies and looked forward to their fruition. In fact, every Sunday, there were prophecies and visions of evildoers falling at our feet in the spiritual realm. When the pastor’s daughter testified that she successfully wrestled two witches in her classroom, exposing them in their black and red regalia, we broke into frenzied dancing! God was doing wonders in our midst, exposing witches and using overlooked members of our community like the shockingly slender daughter of the pastor to bring witches to their knees. Of course, her revelation was followed with a stern warning to parents to ensure their children did not have friends, for fear that the children would be initiated into witchcraft and used to attack the church. So, for a long time, friends were terribly frowned upon in our family. In fact, happiness and peace were feelings I personally only started to experience once we left that church. I remember baking a cake once in the pastor’s kitchen and being labelled a possessed child for doing so. I can’t explain how exhausting the torrent of prayers that followed after was.

The first disturbance to the status quo came in the form of a woman called Mrs Akintayo. Mrs Akintayo and her husband had four strapping boys and were punctual at every single service, including weekday services. During one of such services, one of the prophets was in a trance, prophesying and stating visions of things that were happening in the spiritual realm. By the way, this was a prestigious gift to have in the church so many people often went into ‘trance’ and ‘prophesied’. On this fateful day, Mrs Akintayo was standing behind the prophet in case she missed her step (because in trance, you are walking in the spiritual and might not see stones, steps or even poles in the physical). The prophet suddenly turned to Mrs Akintayo and said:

“You must never leave the church else the wrath that falls on those who leave will befall you and your family.”

Mrs Akintayo immediately fell to her knees in subservience. “Me? Leave the church? I would not dare! My allegiance is pledged to this church and the vision of the pastor.”

From his seat in front, the pastor nodded satisfactorily. We all did. No one wanted to experience the wrath that befalls leavers and we certainly did not want to lose Mrs Akintayo to it. However, on the following Sunday, as the service commenced, the absence of the Akintayos was noticeable. My dad decided we would visit them at home after the service. Perhaps one of their children was ill. We arrived at their home and were surprised to meet everyone in high bubbly spirits. “We woke up late and the car was not working”, they said. My dad prayed for them and prayed for the car to miraculously start working.

Yet, throughout the week, the Akintayos were missing in action. Weeks went by and their visible absence from church could not be ignored. The truth finally dawned on everyone – the Akintayos had left and were not coming back. Something had shaken them awake and caused them to look again at this ‘ministry’. It took another year for my parents to leave. I was living in Ibadan then so I was not there to experience the ugliness of what led to their exit.

Now, as I watch and listen to people jump to the defence of their pastor without first checking for the truth, I am reminded of the agonizing years my family spent in what we thought was a church, but was really a cult in the making. I am reminded of the belief we had in this ‘pastor’ and his ability to ‘teach’ the word even though I can’t recall any impactful message he taught and I bet my dad, his ‘Aaron’ can’t recall any either. But even if we could, is the ability to teach impactful messages enough to absolve one of criminality?

From my experience, I have come to realize that very often, when we seek churches we find cults; not because we are foolish, but because we are seeking manifestations of God that meet our expectations by feeding our fear. We want to be told not to wear certain clothes, eat certain foods, or even wear certain hairstyles because for some reason, we think those rules make God real. We believe in human shepherds and their man-made laws which they turn to doctrine, but forget the one true shepherd – Christ Jesus. We forget that God is already in the beauty of our skin, in the curls and coils of our hair, in the steps of our feet and even the waves of our hands. God is in us, hearing us, seeing us, and walking with us. We need not trust in the special gifts of others, but trust in the name of God alone.

Have you also had a ‘cultish’ experience? Please share. I would love to read about it!

And yes, the Akintayos were all still alive last time I checked.

God and Life

God Sends Help Before You need It

There was a time in my life when I thought I would die from every bad situation I faced. I often told myself, in the midst of difficulty, that there was no way I was going to make it out so it was in my best interest to bend my back, let the situation sit on me until I could no longer breathe… until recently.

For those of you who may not be aware, my car was stolen three days after my PhD graduation. I am specific about the time it was stolen to help you understand how potentially crippling the situation could be. I was on a good high, celebrating the completion of a degree that had me questioning myself over and over and finally adding that ‘Dr’ title to my name. And right in the midst of all that, my car was stolen from a parking lot, and I was left wondering about ow I was going to get to work.

I told myself I could not live down the height of embarrassment that was about to follow me. I thought I could not survive the thought of going from a car-owning student to a bus-hailing PhD holder. I thought “Oh dear! The devil is about to have a field day at my expense. How was I going to tell people about how much God loves me, when I was unable to explain the fact that a car I had driven for six years without any event was stolen on the happiest week of my life?

Well, I did not die. I did not sink. I did not even bend. Surely, I was sad, but my sadness was often shortlived as I remembered the passage the holy spirit shared with me a month before my car was stolen.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not lack any good thing. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for God is with me. His rod and his staff, they comfort me. He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies. He anoints my head with oil, my cup runs over. Surely, the goodness and mercy of God will follow me, all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever and ever. Amen” – Psalm 23.

It did not seem like much when I woke up on the morning of my birthday and the Lord dropped this on my heart. It seemed like a little more when a pastor friend of mine called me that morning and started our conversation with this passage, but still not enough for me to think too deeply about it. Afterall, it was just psalm 23. I had heard it over and over. What else was there to it?

In retrospect, I realize this was a seed God was planting ahead to give me strength for the day of trouble. It was a covering God sent out a month ahead to prepare me for the days I could not live down the misfortune of losing my car. It was a reassurance of love before the event that would cause me to doubt his love. It was comfort before the tears, relief before the pain, reassurance before the doubt.

I don’t know what you might be facing at this point. Perhaps it feels like God has forgotten you exist and you feel hurt that he let certain things happen to you. Don’t lose hope. Don’t think he has forgotten you. Sit back and think back… He sent you a covering before the storm. And if you are struggling to locate it, I encourage you to remember that the Lord is YOUR shepherd. You shall NOT LACK any good thing!

God bless you! XOXO

God and Life

Protect Your Joy; Protect Your Life

As 2017 drew to an end, I decided to go off the grid. It wasn’t due to exhaustion (although I admit I was almost at the end of myself by December); nor was it a stunt I believed would make me appear more mature. I took time off to communicate with God and believe it or not, with myself.

You see, as 2017 trudged along, I stopped speaking to myself and I definitely stopped listening to myself. I am a naturally optimistic person; you can even say when it comes to determining outcomes I am in my own world. As much as I prepare for possible negative outcomes, I tend to visualize the positive outcomes more. I excite myself thinking about them. I walk as though things have already worked out; I talk as though I am already in the reality of a positive outcome.

But something was different in 2017. As the months went by, I stopped visualizing the positive. I stopped seeing the positive. I stopped walking like it was going to happen. I stopped talking like it had happened.

Image result for sad man

I spent a lot of time listening to what others had to say even though they were not speaking to me or about me. I listened so much that I started to internalize what others had gone through; I started to expect the negative outcomes they got and at some point believed that my glasses were rose-tinted and life, in reality, was a rolling ball of negativity.

Thank God for those three days I spent off the grid. Thank God for those three days I spent immersed in my bible, speaking to God and listening to my heart. They made the important difference I’ve experienced in 2018 so far.

You see, no matter how cautious we are, we are to some extent influenced by the environment, by the things we hear and by the things others are doing around us. Last year, I listened to so many negative stories about relationships that I started to let go of my dream relationship. I said to myself “Demi it’s too far-fetched, it won’t happen”. I started to expect the worst, and as a result, I did everything possible to avoid it. Of course, it did not help that old scars began to find their way to the surface with the direction of my thoughts, reinforcing the negativity I was internalizing without being aware of it. I thought of the dream life I wanted to live and started to let my reality get in the way of that dream. I listened often to the people who told me about how their dream lives did not work out – not in celebration of something better, but in resignation to life as it had played out.

But those three days changed the direction of my thoughts and made me ‘rogue’ in how unshakeably I now believe in the validity of my dreams and aspirations. I started the year off happier, better and stronger than I ever was all through 2017. And I just want to say these to you:

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Source: She knows

  • Your dreams are valid. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Even if the people around you have never had what you dream of, don’t assume it is a natural rule that you can’t have it. The validity of your dreams is not dependent on the approval of those around you. Please don’t ever forget this.
  • You can sympathize with others without internalizing the negativity they have experienced. In other words, just because it happened to someone else or many other people, does not mean it will happen to you. This is where many of us struggle. We struggle to separate our lives from the lives of others. For some reason, we feel solidarity with those who are experiencing negative outcomes, and there is nothing wrong with this. However, we must remember that our solidarity is based on support and not necessarily on us sharing the same negative niche. For example, if your best friend’s husband cheats or if your buddy’s wife is abusive, by all means, be a supportive friend but don’t go home with the assumption that your own partner will be the same. Don’t subscribe to a club based on perception. Your reality might be different. Focus on your reality
  • Be OK with pulling out when you feel your heart is reaching a tipping point. Yes, there is an emotional tipping point where you go from being a supportive friend, neighbour or colleague to being overwhelmed with so much emotion, it is as though you are right in the situation when truly you are not. Be OK with excusing yourself. Be OK with saying “Can we please discuss a happier topic that will make us both feel better?” Be OK with giving a good tight hug and then leaving if you don’t want to listen anymore. It does not make you a bad person. You’re no use to the person you are trying to support if you are overcome with negative emotions. So why not pull out for a bit, get yourself together and step back in when you really have your heart protected and can speak to them from a position that offers strength and support, rather than one that dwells in the pigsty of negativity?

 

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Source: Dreamstime.com

Finally, please remember that negative outcomes make the news more than positive outcomes ever will. Negative stories get more shares on Facebook. Negative topics make the trends on Twitter. Look out for what’s not making the news – working marriages and relationships, successful fulfilled people walking in purpose in their own way, fulfilled dreams and aspirations, peaceful towns and cities with little or no crime… these trends don’t make the news but it does not mean they are not out there. Look for the positive and protect your joy. Believe in the validity of your dreams and stand firm. The negative outcomes of others do not, cannot and will not dictate your own. XOXO

God and Life

For All the Strong People Who Are Feeling Faint…

This post is for all the strong people out there and for those who surround them. I hope this touches your heart.

You see, being a strong person is great. It means you are a survivor, a victor, an overcomer. Many strong people are alone but they are hardly ever lonely because they are either planning the next big thing or fighting a new goliath to reach the next level. Many strong people tend to do life alone and no one seems to understand why that is.

The problem is people who surround strong people expect nothing less than strength from them. They expect strong people to be ‘on’ all the time, abuzz with bible verses and inspirational quotes. They expect strong people to always have something to pour out while they eagerly receive. They don’t ever expect strong people to faint or even feel faint.

But here is a fact: Strong people faint many times.

Strong people feel situations like you do. They might know all the bible verses, but when it seems like the doors of life are closing in, strong people break down and cry too. It is at times like this that they need words of encouragement, love, hugs, a treat, no pity parties but an outlet to let out the pain they feel and an encouraging verse to strengthen their hearts after they have emptied their hearts of hovering depression.

But what do people around them do instead?

They judge. They mock. They castigate them for daring to faint.

“Shouldn’t you be the strong one here?” “If you are weak, how can we be strong?” “I don’t believe you are saying things like this. You should know better!” “Wow…. and you say you believe in God?”

It is no surprise that strong people learn to shut up. They struggle with vulnerability. Even in relationships, they struggle to say “I don’t really have this on lockdown because I don’t feel equipped to handle it.” They are scared to say “I feel like God is not coming through for me. Everything is such a mess.”

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They struggle to bare their emotions with anyone, including their partners. From my observation, I have noticed that the partners of many strong people tend to leave them to handle life alone. Any attempt at expressing vulnerability is met with a barrage of inspirational quotes and Bible verses that mean nothing to a heart that just wants to empty itself of the pain of struggle. How can these quotes and verses find room in a heart that is already filled with despondency and doubt? Oh yes! Strong people get despondent too. They doubt their journey too. They wonder about their process too. They cry. They faint. And people let them do it all alone. People make them feel guilty for feeling faint, and question if they truly serve God.

Dear strong person, the fact that you feel faint after holding on for so long is nothing to feel guilty for. David, a man after God’s heart, felt faint many times (read the psalms and take note of this). I imagine that Joseph through his travails lost hope many times. People may desire you to be a robot so they don’t have to invest any human emotions in your wellbeing, but you are not a robot. You are human. Sometimes the weight will be too heavy. Sometimes your heart will break over the smallest things. It is not because you are weak or because you lack faith, but because you are human and humans get tired. Sometimes you will seek encouragement or an outlet and be met with judgment and concealed mockery. Whatever it is, do not stop being human.

Did you expect me to say “do not stop being strong”? How can I say that when I know exactly how dark some days can be? I know how quickly courage can become cowardice, how quickly faith can turn to fear, how frustration can creep in on you and make you question your life.

I get it. Perhaps many people don’t. But I get it. Being strong can be a lonely journey. But let’s learn a lesson from David. Everytime his spirit felt faint, his go-to person was God. He cried to God, talked to God, expressed himself to God. God is the best listener. His ears are always open and his eyes never close in sleep. Yes, we all wish for people to understand those dark days without mockery or judgment, but many of them won’t. Those who do will stand by and get you back on your feet. They will give you a pep talk that will lighten your heart, or they will buy you three flavours of ice cream in one cone just to show that everything can work together for your good. If you are surrounded by these people who get the gist of your concealed fragility and your human-ness, keep them close. They are needed for your journey. If you are surrounded by those who castigate your fainting spells because ‘they’ve been through worse’ or ‘you are acting non-christian’ by fainting’, love them but never faint in their presence.

Take it to God. It is him afterall who gives you strength. XOXO

God and Life

Understand the Seasons of Your Life

Hey you! What season of life are you in? Are you doing what is required of the season! Check out this five-minute video from my YouTube channel regarding two important seasons of life we must understand.

God and Life

This Is How You Are Unknowingly Negative About Your Life

As you may already know, I started a vlog a few months ago. I put some of my posts in videos on my YouTube channel. Please watch and share with friends. Don’t forget to subscribe as well! XOXO

God and Life

Everything Will Be Alright

There are times when I don’t understand how life works. Yesterday at church, we were asked to write letters to God and I honestly did not know what to write. I did not understand everything that was going through my heart. I asked myself if it would be an appropriate avenue to yell and complain, or was it a good time to say “thank you God for all those things I didn’t thank you for”. Was it a good time to cry and just tell God I was about to give up on him? Or could I just ask questions and hope for the best answers? What exactly was I supposed to write? I sincerely did not know so I left the page blank.

It did not help that this morning I got heartbreaking news of someone’s loss. I cried. Why does God let those who trust and love him go through so much pain? Why does faith need to be tested and shaken on all sides to be proven? I wish I had the answers but I don’t.

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One thing I do believe in though is that nothing is indeed permanent. I have fought and won so many battles, such that re-living the emotions I felt back then is almost impossible now. Indeed there are those battles that have left marks as reminders, but I choose to see them as scars that remind me of the strength I possess. I see them as proof of valiance and hope that I can face anything else that comes my way. Guess what? You can too.

As a child, I learned a quote that said “Everything will be alright in the end. If it is not alright, then it is not the end.” It gives me hope everytime I think about it. It makes me realize that I am not at the end when I am in the midst of a storm. I am not at the end when I am in pain and suffering. I am not at the end when I am buried beneath battles and numbness I cannot explain. You are not at the end either.

Every trial has a purpose. Every battle produces a hero. Thankfully, with God, we are not heroes like Achilles with sad endings. We are headed towards beautiful endings crafted in the beauty of God’s grace and favour. Even in the numbness you feel now, know that God is able to bring excitement and beauty that will blow your mind. I can imagine you don’t want to hear that now…certainly not in the midst of your pain and suffering. I can understand that…but I can’t help but tell you…

Just like everything else you have been through, this too shall pass.

All will be well.

P.S: In honor of forgotten dreams, I am finishing posts I saved as draft over the years. This is post number 4.

God and Life

The Fear of God’s Will

Are you afraid of where God’s will might take you? Check out this video!